I have never appreciated the act of breathing until I started getting myself into a ton of things since the start of the year. You might be thinking, “what are you saying? Breathing is essential!”; I wouldn’t argue with you on that. However, if you reflect on it, we recognize how important it is to keep us alive, but we often miss how powerful it could be to keep us alive.
As we go along our days, we dedicate so much of ourselves as we accomplish tasks no matter the difficulty. When you brew your coffee at home, you spend time measuring and grinding your beans; you keep an eye out as you pour your water onto your brewing device of choice keeping in mind the time, the measurement, if channeling is happening, etc. When you go about you work, you keep in mind so many things from thinking of your to-do’s, to strategizing how to accomplish them efficiently, and the actual work. And I could go on about this.
We get deep into everything we do from the things that excite us to the mundane everyday routine we have subjected ourselves to. We would have built certain habits which would allow us to save our time and energy to be more productive. I remember reading a book which said that forming habits is quite important in that sense because it allows us to automate certain decision-making tasks. As we are able to automate certain tasks, we would be able to invest our energy and time to more important and more complex activities. There’s nothing wrong about it, I have personally subscribed to it. There was just a part of me that felt being robotic, and obsessed with productivity than just living.
And this is why I breathe.
When I started with my counselling sessions, one of the important things I was taught was being more conscious, and more mindful. In times of stress, of moments and episodes, being mindful of one’s breathing—of voluntary breathing—helps to manage oneself. (It’s not foolproof, of course, but it helps). Make no mistake, that was not the first time I’ve encountered the value of voluntary breathing.
In Vinyasa, you would always be reminded the importance to breathe as you flow through the sequences. In spinning/indoor cycling, you’re reminded to breathe because it’s easy to forget to do so as you power through double-beats and sprints. In mindfulness exercises, to be aware of your breathing is at the cornerstone of the entire practice. Voluntary breathing allows us to break our dependence on survival and allows us to live better and live more. You don’t have to take my word for it, there are some researches that could back it up, but that’s not why I’m writing again.
This realization has allowed me to reevaluate my life—what I do, why I do these, ultimately, my raison d’être. This introspection has reminded me to be more conscious and intentional in everything I involve myself in, even more so than how I have been living my life.
I’m able to appreciate people a little bit better because I am able to have a better understanding of my relationships with them. Of why I am fortunate to be surrounded by friends who inspire me and, from time to time, who support me. I’m able to understand my place in the Universe much better because I know the things that I do a professional and personal capacity have an impact no matter how small. And that thought excites me because it only means that I do have a place, I have a role to play, that I am valid.
And the uncertainties of tomorrow will only allow us to breathe more intentionally
In one of my conversations with a good friend, I was inspired by how he is braving something new amid such an unprecedented time in history. He has recently moved to the USA to pursue further studies, very much away from his loved ones (although, I think the lengthy quarantine imposed by the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic has prepared him for it?), and while he is an amazing genius who is highly charismatic and capable, I think there’s no denying that there are a lot of challenges to be faced. And I’m inspired by his move not because of the boldness to charge towards something, but because of his story leading to where he is now.
I’ve come to realize that what inspires me aren’t the successes and the milestones of people. I have reached that point in my life that I am not easily impressed on accomplishments of people because I’ve had the pleasure of encountering so much successful people in my life already—those who have bested their health conditions, those who have dedicated their lives towards worthy causes, people who continue to show up even when so much is against them, and so on. What excites me and inspires me would be people in their rawest, most vulnerable selves who could open up about their journeys. I think there is nothing more remarkable than coming to close contact to people who are inspiring because they are people.
And as we continue to navigate through life given present circumstances, I think it’s good to be reminded that we are all just people who need each other, who could do much more for others. In the chaos of everyday life before this pandemic, most of us have been conveniently involuntarily breathing through life. We were taking a lot of things for granted and the past few months, we have all been learning the value of every little thing. The distance of work and home, the random encounters with old friends, the white noise in coffee shops, and so on.
We have been voluntarily breathing now in order to make sense out of this reality. We have been voluntarily breathing now in order to save each other. We have been voluntarily breathing now in order to have hope.
And I pray that it helps for you to slow down, to pause, to be still, to hold on to hope. To hold on to time. To hold on to the fact that you’re breathing.